Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Lido

After our disastrous attempt to visit the pool on Tuesday, the Vol-in-Law and I met the Texan and her housemate at the Tooting Bec Lido yesterday evening.

What's a lido, you may ask. (You may also ask what's a Tooting or a Bec, for which I have no satisfying answer). A lido is an outdoor pool. In a country where it often rains, is chilly and overcast indoor pools outnumber their outdoor cousins - and so the al fresco versions have their own special name - the Lido. (Opinions differ as to whether they are pronounced LEE-do or LIE-do).

Opinions concur that the Tooting Bec Lido is a special lido. It's set amid mature trees in a park, it's 100 years old this year and is Europe's largest outdoor swimming pool. And it is big. It's about the size of an American football field -not including the kiddie pool. Usually my experience of municipal pools involves dodging unsupervised children and staying out of the way of the faster, more serious swimmers. But the lido was so big that even though it was well attended on a sultry July evening there was plenty of elbow room.

While there was plenty of room - it lacked some of the modern amenities one might expect - like lockers. We all had to leave our valuables (e.g. camera, cell phone, wallet, keys, passport, smokes) by the side of the pool and hope for the best. But hey, London is known for the honesty of its citizenry. But we swam, I forgot about the possibility of trying to negotiate my way home without dry clothes or travelcard and a good time was had by all.

One other strange thing about the lido. It seemed to have special buoyancy laws. The Texan, ViL and I all found it more diffilcult than usual to keep afloat. And I have more than enough body fat to be a floater rather than a sinker, but we were all plunging like stones. Weird.

Tooting Bec Lido isn't really near any stations, so it's a little hard to get to without a car. I walked from Streatham, the Texan from Tooting Bec, and the ViL caught the 57 bus. Which is how we all got home again. It was a long walk even to the bus stop and the road took us through a council estate - for American readers - that's a housing project. But it wasn't bad. In fact, the estate boasted a Montessori day care centre with "organic catering", and the delivery van I saw parked up on the road (a common site on estates) claimed to haul mainly saffron, truffles, olive oil and the like.

Tooting Bec Lido

1 comment:

Sam said...

I googled the pool and, lo and behold, there it was on the Wandsworth Leisure Centres website, with pitchers n'all. It looks like great fun!